Amarillo Timeline

1541: Spanish conquistador Francisco Coronado is the first European to reach the area.

1786: A portion of El Camino Real (The King's Highway) from Santa Fe, NM, to San Antonio, TX, included the Amarillo area and was widely used for exploration and trade.

1874: The first and second battle of Palo Duro, between U.S. troops and the Indians, started the demise of the Native American in the area. Learn more about the Red River War in the Texas Panhandle by clicking here.

1876: Potter Country - named after Robert Potter, Secretary of the Navy and Senator of the Republic of Texas - was created by the Texas Legislature. Rancher Col. Charles Goodnight, developer of the chuckwagon, started the local cattle industry when he settled in the area and brought 1,600 head of cattle with him.

1878: The buffalo was replaced by the Longhorn, the LX Ranch was established, and the Frying Pan was the first of the large ranches to be fenced in with barbed wire.

1883: Judge O.H. Nelson imported Hereford and Shorthorn cattle, unwittingly starting the demise of the Longhorn.

1887: Amarillo became a county seat and the first railroad freight service came to the area.

1910: West Texas A&M University was founded; today it serves the entire Texas Panhandle, a region the size of Indiana.

1913: Amarillo was the first city in Texas and only the fifth in the nation to adopt a city commission/city manager form of government.

1918: Natural gas was discovered in the Texas Panhandle.

1921: Oil was discovered in the area.

1922: The first radio concert was broadcast from an Amarillo radio station and carried by WDAG - one of the first 80 licensed stations in the country.

1929: U.S. Bureau of Mines' Amarillo Helium plant was completed, and the city was on the way to becoming the "Center of the Helium Industry." Amarillo International Airport opened.

1930: Air mail service started to Amarillo.

1948: The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) moved its headquarters to Amarillo.

1965: Lake Meredith opened and recorded 227,000 visitors the first year. President Johnson signed the act dedicating Alibates Flint Quarries as a National Monument.

1966: Paul Green's "Texas" opened; this was made possible after the sound and light show Thundering Sounds of the West drew 36,000 people the previous summer.

1992: Major renovation of Amarillo International Airport is completed.

1995: The Working Ranch Cowboy Association (WRCA), an organization entirely dedicated to the working cowboy, was created with headquarters in Amarillo.

1998: Bell Helicopter announced development of an Amarillo manufacturing center to build the V-22 Osprey, a tilt-rotor aircraft with the capabilities of both fixed-wing and helicopter aircraft.

1999: Amarillo resident Kimberly Willis Holt wins the National Book Award for her children's novel When Zachary Beaver Came to Town.

2000: Amarillo resident Brandon Slay wins wrestling gold medal at the summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

2003: Amarillo native Rick Husband commands Space Shuttle Columbia. He and his crew died during an explosion when returning to Earth.

2004: National Cutting Horse Association returns to Amarillo.

2005: 4th Annual Best of the West- Amarillo- Best Wild West Town- True West magazine 

2010: Top 10 Western Museums- PPHM ranks #4- True West magazine, May 2010 

2011: 20 Best Places to Live in the West- Amarillo makes the list- American Cowboy magazine, April/May 2011- www.americancowboy.com  

2012: Top 100 Events in North America- TEXAS makes the list- Destinations magazine, Sept/Oct 2011- American Bus Association 

2013: The 50 Best BBQ Joints in the World- Tyler's of Amarillo makes the list- Texas Monthly, June 2013 

2014: America's 10 Best State Parks- Palo Duro Canyon State Park #1- Fodors.com, April 2014 

2015: Amarillo made the top 10 True Western Towns of the year - True West Magazine 

Amarillo Trivia

  • In 1893 Amarillo's population was listed as "between 500-600 humans and 50,000 head of cattle."
  • In 1886 the XIT Ranch ran 150,000 head of cattle and was valued at more than 1.5 million dollars; at one time the ranch extended into 10 counties.
  • In 1929 Amarillo was a stop along the first continuous, scheduled air passenger and mail service from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
  • Some people maintain that during an Amarillo sunrise and sunset one can see the curvature of the earth, due to the wide open spaces of the Great Plains.
  • The Amarillo airport has the 3rd largest runway in the world and is designated as an alternate landing site for the space shuttle.
  • Amarillo ranches and feedlots produce 25% of the nation's and 88% of Texas' beef .
  • Amarillo was rated nationally as having some of the cleanest air in the country.
  • The Texas Panhandle is approximately 26,000 square miles, or about the size of West Virginia.
  • The Texas Panhandle (26 counties) is larger than nine other states.
  • There are 62 incorporated towns in the 26 counties of the Texas Panhandle.

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